Swimming in the ocean is a free-living marine animal that could potentially encounter a non-visible net. Once they have become entangled they are not capable of escaping, the plastics used to make fishing nets are very durable making it impossible for them to break free. If they haven’t already drowned within minutes, they will suffer from distress, wounds, infection and starvation. They will endure a long, prolonged death where the matter of time can be months or years before they draw one last breath. Who is out there to save them before it is too late? Nobody.
I cannot even fathom the vast amount of precious marine life that have been endangered to ‘ghost’ fishing. Our oceans are not a safe place for marine animals to live in if they are at a high risk from being caught in traps. ‘Ghost’ fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in our oceans that are posing a threat for marine life to survive. Millions are killed and mutilated every year and the animals that are among this catastrophic issue are whales, fish, seals, turtles and birds. An estimated 870 nets were recovered off Washing State in the US that contained more than 32,000 marine animals. This was only in the Washing State alone, imagine a worldwide estimate.
No habitat is free from this pollution and even remote Antarctic habitats are threatened. World Animal Protection estimates that entanglement in ghost gear kills at least 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales every year. An inestimable number of birds, turtles, fish and other species are also injured and killed.
136, 000 – This abundance of animals is far too much to be ignored.
Fishing lines are extremely strong and durable, causing animals to become entangled and trapped. Due to their thin diameter, they can readily cut through skin, flesh, and even bone when caught. No animal deserves to have their habitat disturbed from human activities that ultimately kill them in the process.
It is detrimental to our oceans environment to have fishing gear in place. Not only does it harm our exquisite marine life, it poses a threat to marine flora and fauna.
This is the unfortunate reality of ‘ghost’ fishing. Millions of animals can be prevented from this cause and in doing so action has to be made. The World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign aims to save at least 1 million marine animals by 2018. World Animal Protection have formed the Global Ghost Gear initiative that aim to create an alliance of governments, industry, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to address the problem of ghost fishing gear. As more campaigns address this issue, it can be said with confidence that marine animals will be able to live in a non-threatening environment within our oceans. Through marine conservation, we can protect and preserve ecosystems in oceans and seas and save vulnerable marine species.
World Animal Protection 2014, Fishing’s phantom menace, World Animal Protection, retrieved 13 April 2016, <www.worldanimalprotection.org.au/sites/default/files/int_files/sea-change-campaign-tackling-ghost-fishing-gear_0.pdf>
World Animal Foundation 2015, Help Save Aquatic Animals, World Animal Foundation, retrieved 7 May 2016, <www.worldanimalfoundation.net/aquatic_animals.html>